2013 was an exciting year for agricultural law. We saw the Supreme Court take on an Indiana soybean farmer, the CDC address raw milk sales, and Congress push the Farm Bill aside so that it could focus on the debt ceiling and Obamacare. What were the three biggest stories on the Janzen Ag Law blog?
- Bowman v. Monsanto. When was the last time the U.S. Supreme Court addressed the planting of soybeans in a case? That happened this year when Vernon Bowman, an Indiana farmer, planted glyphosate resistant (“Roundup Ready”) soybeans he had purchased at a local elevator without paying for a license from Monsanto. The Court upheld Monsanto’s patent, determining that Bowman had replicated the patented Roundup Ready technology in violation of Monsanto’s patent.
- Right to Farm Act Upheld. Indiana saw two major Right to Farm Act cases this year. In the first case, Parker v. Obert’s Legacy Dairy, the Indiana Court of Appeals determined that a neighbor’s nuisance suit against a dairy farm that had expanded from 100 to 700 cows was barred by the Right to Farm Act. It did not matter that the neighbor had lived in the area for nearly 75 years and was a retired hobby farmer. In the second case, Dalzell v. Country View Family Farms, the Seventh Circuit federal court of appeals held that a hog farm was also protected by the Right to Farm Act, even though the hog barns were new construction in a cornfield. What mattered to the court was that the hog farm was in an existing agricultural area.
- Attack of Drones. I was somewhat surprised to see the response to my article about legal implications if, hypothetically, government agencies started use autonomous drones to look for water quality violations or field monitoring. The issue was hot, although also somewhat premature. The FAA, which has jurisdiction over anything flying in U.S. airspace, has not yet approved drones for commercial or government agency use, except in a few instances. But, such regulations are coming and the legal issues are too.
2013 was a great year to be an ag law blogger. Thank you for reading and look for more in 2014!
Todd Janzen grew up on a Kansas farm and now practices law with Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP, which has offices in Indianapolis and South Bend. He also serves as General Counsel to the Indiana Dairy Producers and writes regularly about agricultural law topics on his blog: JanzenAgLaw.com. This article is provided for informational purposes only. Readers should consult legal counsel for advice applicable to specific circumstances. Todd is currently serving as chair of the American Bar Association’s (ABA’s) Agricultural Management Committee, which is part of the ABA’s Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources.
Submitted by: Todd J. Janzen, Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP